Sunday, March 6, 2016

AMBOAJE: ”All About Living”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Melodic Rock Records 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Wow. Blessed with a name that’s rather hard to pronounce, AMBOAJE (”am-bo-age”) is vehicle for vocalist/songwriter Toni Amboaje.  He is an award winning Spanish song writer and a finalist in the 2012 edition of The Voice. The album hasn’t gotten that much attention and I don’t understand why, because what we have here is a so-called ”complete package”. Great, catchy songs, up-to-date production… and when it comes to marketing,  it doesn’t hurt that the vocalist is good-looking bloke. Not so sure about the band name though!

Let’s take a look at the songs on ”All About Living”. ”Over And Over Again” starts the album, and does it very well. It’s a very catchy song, the kind of stuff Bon Jovi should be writing these days, instead of whiny ballads. Great hook and a the kind of a groove that’ll make you want to tap your feet. The title track has some similarities to Hinder’s ”Loaded And Alone” during verses and the chorus sounds familiar too, but it’s still a great song with that groove I mentioned earlier.

The mid tempo ”Rise & Fall With You” is another potential hit single and the Bon Jovi comparisons come up again. They just rarely release songs as good as this one these days. ”Able” could be the band’s hit ballad and it kind of reminds me of Gotthard.

The party is kickstarted again with ”Gotta Be A Good Girl”, a bouncy rocker with a big hook and a big beat… even touches of Anastacia somewhere there. And then it’s time for slow-dancing again with ”Something To Say”, a very traditional rock ballad. I like it but I prefer the uptempo stuff, the next song ”Five Years Gone” for example. Someone like Nickelback or Sunrise Avenue could turn this into a monster hit.

The biggest surprise of the album is ”Give Me The Real Thing”, a very country-flavoured track. I had to check if I was still listening to the same album when I first heard it! It’s not too bad though, and some of the modern country tracks are basically melodic rock with fiddles anyway. ”It’s Always You” is another ballad, a duet with Paula Rojo. Not one of my favourites but an OK song anyway. The country flavour continues there.

”Feels Like Saturday Night” is very much in the vein of Hinder’s ”Up All Night” and their other party rock tracks. It’s good, but somehow sounds a bit too familiar and calculated. It’s as if the band had thought that ”let’s write a big American-style weekend anthem, whoa!”.

The last two songs are both balladic ones. I like them both, but they make this album a bit too ballad-heavy. Almost half of the album is slow songs… Still, it’s the album’s only major flaw. I could go on about Toni’s Spanish accent, but it seems to come and go… on some songs it’s stronger and on others you can hardly hear it.

If 2016 brings us many albums better than this one, it’s going to be a hell of a year. For now, Amboaje are easily in the Top 5 of 2016.

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